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Tuesday, January 18, 2000 - Page updated at 12:00 AM

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Hip and lively, Kcpq's new morning show is local and Perky

Seattle Times TV columnist

It's hard to like morning people.

They're so perky, so unabashedly bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before the sun rises. While the rest of us rue the moment we're forced to leave our toasty cocoons for the inevitable cold-start, these peppy folk are all glowing smiles and cheery laughs.

I speak of the "Mornings Live on Q" crew, a bubbly bunch best described as "cute" - particularly their Tinkerbell of a feature reporter Debbie Wiedemer. The most grumpy waking person can't resist their fresh-faced charm, provided you have a cup of strong coffee to help you along. Very, very strong coffee.

"Mornings Live on Q" debuted yesterday at 6 a.m. on KCPQ-TV, and came off without a hitch, although the on-air personalities had a few worries.

"Remember, we're doing three hours of local live TV. There may be a couple of mistakes once in a while," morning anchor Sam Shane said in the first moments of the program.

Actually there was no need for the apologies, as everything went smoothly on the virgin voyage. The ayem show wants to be all things local to the morning crowd through 9 a.m., mixing up-to-the-minute hard news with traffic, sports, weather and a feature each hour. But they still want to have fun, which is why they hit you with a fun-loving feature each hour.

The first show had evening anchor Scott Engler hitting the slopes to find out how much people paid for their skis, along with a UFO-sighting feature and a piece about new technology for the home, including a microwave that surfs the Internet. No joke.

Headed up by Christine Chen and Shane, the crew fits the Fox young-and-hip mold. The show grooves out to commercial breaks with the likes of Blind Melon, Beck and Ricky Martin, and as it grooves back in, they switch between sitting on a cozy couch, where they read headlines from magazine and newspapers, and bellying up to the news desk.

Traffic vixen Stacie Kern makes commute updates hum in her "Morning Crunch" segments, co-starring "The Jam Cam."

"I know these roads folks," she said in a spirited introduction. "I can pronounce Puyallup, do not worry!"

Meanwhile, meteorologist Walter Kelley may not yet hold sway over an ardent fan-base like Q-13 evening weather deity Jim Castillo, but look out - he's got the double doppler! Even the logo, a "Q" split in the middle and turned into a scribbled sunrise on top, is as adorable as a burst of merry sunshine.

Really, if you don't do mornings, don't turn to this show. If you do, congratulations - you have some new best friends, perky.

Copyright (c) 2000 Seattle Times Company, All Rights Reserved.

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